China’s Shanghai Airlines has gone to court seeking a combined 35 million yuan ($5 million) in compensation from nine pilots who are attempting to leave the airline, presumably to join rival carriers.

The official Shanghai Daily newspaper reports that the Shanghai Jing’an People’s Court has accepted the case in which the Star Alliance carrier is seeking compensation of around 4 million yuan from each of the nine pilots.

“The carrier alleged that it spent much time training these pilots…and their resignations would have a negative impact on the company’s operations and flight safety,” says the newspaper.

It adds that 10 other Shanghai Airlines pilots are seeking to leave the carrier and their cases are being handled through arbitration.

Many of China’s airlines have been suffering from a shortage of pilots as the domestic air transport market has been growing at rapid rates. This has forced some carriers hire more foreign pilots and this has increased costs.

The Chinese Government has been trying to prevent ‘poaching’ of pilots among the country’s many airlines and the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s East China office is reported to have implemented a new regulation on 1 April under which not more than 1% of an airline’s pilots may leave each year.

The Shanghai Daily also says the new rules will force pilots who quit to join another airline to pay between 700,000 yuan and 2.1 million yuan in compensation.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news